Many perennials are rich in nectar the
hummingbirds love. Columbine
and tall garden phlox are
just two of their favorites. Columbine is a spring- and
early-summer-blooming perennial that bears spurred flowers in bright
colors. Tall garden phlox bears large clusters of single flowers atop
tall stems in summer.
Trumpet vine, also known as "the hummingbird
vine," is one of the best vines for attracting hummingbirds.
They love its long, tubular, orange flowers that are rich in nectar.
It blooms in mid to late summer.
Attracting butterflies to the garden is a
beautiful and fascinating experience. Whether sunning on a warm rock
or floating lazily from flower to flower in search of food, these
winged visitors add beauty and grace to the garden. Fortunately,
butterflies are attracted to many plants that are attractive to
gardeners as well. Many of the plants that act as host plants for
caterpillars and nectar sources for the adult butterfly are common
There are some common perennials such as veronica
and butterfly weed that serve as food sources for certain
caterpillars. Veronica is a food source for the Baltimore checkerspot
caterpillar. Butterfly weed, botanically known as Asclepias tuberosa,
is a food source for the monarch caterpillar. Sassafras trees and
spicebush are the primary food source for the spicebush swallowtail
caterpillar. Parsley and dill are favorite food plants of the
parsleyworm - the caterpillar of the black swallowtail butterfly.
Contrary to proper horticultural practices,
allowing weeds to grow in the garden is quite beneficial for
butterflies. Many weeds act as host plants for the female butterfly
to lay her eggs. The young caterpillars then feed on the host plant.
If you don't want to have weeds in flower beds, set aside an area for
weeds away from the other plantings.
Many caterpillars only feed on specific plants.
For instance, the caterpillar of the monarch butterfly only feeds on milkweeds.
There are many common annual flowers that are
good sources of nectar for butterflies. Impatiens, heliotrope,
lantana, pentas, cosmos, marigold, false heather (known as cuphea),
and zinnia are all favorites of butterflies.
Perennials, such as purple
coneflower, daisies, New
England aster, tall garden phlox,
and coreopsis also
provide nectar for butterflies.
Wildflower nectar sources include Queen Anne's
lace, Joe Pye weed, clover, butterfly weed, thistle, and milkweed.
The top choice for shrubs is Buddleia
davidii, commonly known as the butterfly bush. When in
bloom, this shrub attracts dozens of butterflies. Other shrubs to
choose are lilac, azalea, and privet.
Choose a combination of flowers that provide
consistent blooming throughout the season. The nectar in single
flowers is easier for the butterfly to extract.
At my free
gardening workshop this
week Ill have a large selection
of hummingbird and butterfly plants for sale. See
the "If You Go" box for more information.